15 Fun Facts About Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

In the face of a looming mid-1980s writers strike, John Hughes presented Paramount executive Ned Tanen with a one-sentence pitch: "I want to do this movie about a kid who takes a day off from school and ... that's all I know so far." Hughes wrote the script in six days, with one day to spare. The result was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, another classic teen movie set in Hughes’ favorite fictional town of Shermer, Illinois, which was released on June 11, 1986.

1. ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL BELIEVES THAT JOHN HUGHES WANTED HIM TO PLAY FERRIS.

Anthony Michael Hall told Vanity Fair that his relationship with the director ended rather abruptly following their work together on Weird Science, and after Hall had begun working with other directors. But he believed that Hughes wrote the roles of Duckie in Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller for him. For his part, Hughes said Broderick was the actor he had in mind when writing the screenplay. Casting directors Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins only seriously considered one other actor for the part: John Cusack.

2. EMILIO ESTEVEZ TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF CAMERON.

Instead it went to Alan Ruck, who turned 30 years old shortly after the film's release.

3. MATTHEW BRODERICK AND ALAN RUCK WERE FRIENDS BEFORE SHOOTING.

Ruck’s agents convinced producers to let the older actor audition when they pointed out that Ruck and Broderick played two characters who were the same age while performing Biloxi Blues on Broadway (Broderick is about six years younger than Ruck.) The two even shared a trailer on the set of Ferris Bueller; Broderick’s trailer was much bigger than Ruck’s, so Ruck just moved into the star’s place.

4. RUCK’S IMPERSONATION OF SLOANE’S FATHER WAS DESIGNED TO MAKE BRODERICK CRACK.

Ruck was doing Broderick’s impression of their Biloxi Blues director Gene Saks, who would at times get “flabbergasted.” As soon as Saks would walk away, Broderick would do an impression of Saks’s rants.

5. MOLLY RINGWALD WANTED TO PLAY SLOANE.

Hughes allegedly told Molly Ringwald that the part wasn’t big enough for her. Hughes wanted an older actress to play Ferris’s girlfriend, and was surprised to discover that Mia Sara was only 18 years old.

6. LOVE WAS IN THE AIR.

Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey (who played Jeanie, Ferris’s sister) got engaged just before the movie's release. Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris's parents, met on the set of the movie and eventually got married and had two children.

7. BEN STEIN WAS INITIALLY SUPPOSED TO DO HIS LECTURE OFF-CAMERA.

The student extras laughed so hard that Hughes decided to put Ben Stein in front of the camera for his speech on supply-side economics. Stein himself picked the topic after Hughes asked him to speak about something he knew a lot about. Before he became a familiar movie and television presence, Stein—who is also a lawyer—was a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford.

8. ROBERT SMITH OF THE CURE WROTE A SONG FOR THE ART MUSEUM SCENE THAT WAS NEVER USED.

After a disagreement between John Hughes and music supervisor David Anderle, Anderle was taken off the project—and Smith’s instrumental number went with him.

9. HUGHES ALSO MANAGED TO ANNOY PAUL MCCARTNEY.

The ex-Beatle complained that the version of “Twist and Shout” in the movie had too much brass in it.

10. BRODERICK COULDN’T DO MOST OF THE CHOREOGRAPHY HE WAS TAUGHT FOR THE PARADE SCENE.

Broderick hurt his knee earlier running through the neighbors's backyards. The random shot of the construction worker dancing in the film was an actual construction worker caught by one of Hughes’s cameras dancing along to the fun. Jennifer Grey didn’t want to miss out on the action, even though Jeanie wasn’t in the scene, so she showed up disguised as an autograph hound with a bouffant wig.

11. THERE’S A REASON BEHIND CAMERON'S DETROIT RED WINGS JERSEY.

For the first 12 years of his life, John Hughes lived in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and loved the local hockey team. Which is why Cameron wears Detroit gear in a Chicago movie.

12. CHARLIE SHEEN REALLY GOT INTO CHARACTER.

He stayed awake for more than two days to achieve his police station look.

13. THE FERRARI WASN'T REAL.

Though it was a Ferrari that Ferris and his friends "borrowed" from Cameron's dad, they weren't cruising around in the real thing. Three replicas of a Ferrari 250GT California Spyder manufactured by Modena were used instead. Replica or not, one of them was sold for $235,000 in 2013.

14. THE CUBS GAME THAT FERRIS ATTENDS AND THE ONE ON THE TV AT THE PIZZA PLACE WERE DIFFERENT GAMES.

Broderick, Ruck, and Sara attended the September 24, 1985 game between the Montreal Expos and the Cubs. The game being broadcast at the pizza place, where Rooney catches a glimpse of the teens, was the June 5, 1985 Braves/Cubs afternoon matchup (the Braves and Expos wore similar-looking road jerseys that season). In his review of the film, Gene Siskel complained that real Chicago kids prefer to sit in the bleachers.

15. AN EARLY SCREENING OF THE FILM WAS "DISASTROUS."

Broderick, Ruck, and Sara saw the movie a few months before its scheduled premiere and didn’t laugh once; they left thinking they had made a bad movie. Paramount executives were similarly unimpressed and concerned when they saw an early cut. Hughes and editor Paul Hirsch then spent two weeks cutting and pasting it into the movie we know (and love) today.

11 Surprising Facts About George R.R. Martin

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Game of Thrones fans know the epic HBO series is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, but beyond the TV show, how much do they really know about the author? Sure, they know it’s taking him a really long time to finish The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the series, but what about him as a person? Here are a few things you might not know about the man who brought us the world of Westeros.

1. As a kid, he made money selling monster stories.

The famed author grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, where his father was a longshoreman. "When I was living in Bayonne, I desperately wanted to get away," Martin told The Independent. "Not because Bayonne was a bad place, mind you. Bayonne was a very nice place in some ways. But we were poor. We had no money. We never went anywhere."

Though his family didn't have the means to travel outside of Bayonne, Martin began to develop a love of reading and writing at a very young age, which allowed him to imagine fantastical worlds beyond his New Jersey hometown. He also learned that writing could be a profitable endeavor: he began selling his stories to other kids in the neighborhood for a penny apiece. (He later raised his prices to a nickel.) Martin's entrepreneurial efforts came to an end when his stories began giving one of his kid customers nightmares, which eventually got back to Martin's mom.

2. He is obsessed with comic books.

In 2014, Martin sat down for a Q&A about his career at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. Though, given his love of fantasy worlds, it might not be surprising to learn that Martin is a comic book fan, he also credits the genre with inspiring him to begin writing in the first place.

"I’m so grateful for comic books because they were really the thing that made me a reader, which in return made me a writer," Martin said. "In the 1950s in America, we had these books that taught you to read, and they were all about Dick and Jane, who were the most boring family you ever wanted to meet ... I didn’t know anyone who lived like that, and it just seemed like a horrible thing. But Batman and Superman, they had a much more interesting life. Gotham City was much more interesting than wherever it was where Dick and Jane lived.”

3. He built a library tower in Santa Fe.

In 2009, Martin bought the home across the street from his house in Santa Fe, New Mexico and turned it into an office space with a library tower built inside. The tower is only two stories tall, because of city building restrictions, but it seems only fitting that the author/history buff would want to be surrounded with books while he writes.

4. A fan letter got his professional writing career started.

Martin's love of comic books is what got his professional career rolling, too. "I had a letter published in Fantastic Four, and because my address was in there I started getting these fanzines and I started writing stories for them," Martin said during the same Santa Fe Q&A. "Funny enough, people writing stories in these fanzines at the time were just awful. They were just really bad, which was good because I looked at these awful stories and knew I could do better than that. I may not have been Shakespeare or J.R.R. Tolkien, but I was certain I could write better than the crap in the fanzines, and indeed I could."

5. A failed novel led to a television writing career.

More than 10 years before A Song of Ice and Fire debuted in 1996, Martin wrote a book called The Armageddon Rag in 1983. Though it was a critical disappointment, producer Phil DeGuere was interested in adapting the project with Martin's help. While that never came to fruition, DeGuere thought of Martin when they were rebooting The Twilight Zone in the mid-1980s and brought him on board to write a handful of episodes. He later did some writing for the live-action Beauty and the Beast series, starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton.

6. Network television standards were not a fit for Martin's style of writing.

Though Martin found success as a television writer, the constant back-and-forth about what they were or were not allowed to show proved to be too much for the writer. "[T]here were constant limitations. It wore me down," Martin told Rolling Stone. "There were battles over censorship, how sexual things could be, whether a scene was too 'politically charged,' how violent things could be. Don’t want to disturb anyone. We got into that fight on Beauty and the Beast. The Beast killed people. That was the point of the character. He was a beast. But CBS didn’t want blood, or for the beast to kill people ... The character had to remain likable."

7. He owns an independent movie theater.

In 2006, The Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe closed its doors, which saddened many locals who were regular patrons, Martin among them. Several years later, Martin decided to give the theater a second life and, after a slight makeover, reopened its doors in 2013. Today, in addition to independent films, the theater holds regular special events—including screenings of Game of Thrones episodes. There's also an onsite bar that serves Game of Thrones-themed cocktails, like the signature White Walker.

8. Martin credits HBO with changing the rules of television.

Network television standards may have been too tame and regimented for Martin's tastes, but all that changed with HBO and The Sopranos, which he credits as paving the way for a series like Game of Thrones to exist in its current form at all.

"I credit HBO with smashing the damn trope that everybody had to be likable on television," Martin told Rolling Stone. "The Sopranos turned it around. When you meet Tony Soprano, he’s in the psychiatrist office, he’s talking about the ducks, his depression and that stuff, and you like this guy. Then he gets in his car and he’s driving away and he sees someone who owes him money, and he jumps out and he starts stomping him. Now how likable was he? Well you didn’t care, because they already had you. A character like Walter White on Breaking Bad could never have existed before HBO."

9. Martin thinks it's important for writers to break the rules.

While he's an admitted fan of William Goldman, Martin has a very different opinion of noted screenplay expert Syd Field. "There is a book out there by Syd and it’s his guide to writing screenplays and it’s probably one of the most harmful things that has ever been done for the movie industry,” Martin said. “For some perverse reason, it has become the bible not for writers but for what we call 'the suits,' the guys at the studios whose job it is to develop properties and give notes to supervise screenplays. They take Syd Field’s course and they buy the book and they start criticizing screenplays like, ‘Well you know, the first turn is supposed to be on page 12 and yours is not until page 17, so obviously this won’t do!'"

"Syd just writes downs these ridiculous rules," Martin continued. "If there really was a formula as he says, then every movie would be a blockbuster. We would just connect A, B, and C and we would have a great movie and everyone would pack the theater to see it. But every movie is not a blockbuster. Many movies that follow his rules precisely actually go down the toilet."

10. He’s a skilled chess player.

"I started playing chess when I was quite young, in grade school," Martin told The Independent. "I played it through high school. In college, I founded the chess club. I was captain of the chess team." Eventually, Martin discovered that he could actually make some money off this skill.

"For two or three years, I had a pretty good situation. Most writers who have to have a day job work five days a week and then they have the weekend off to write. These chess tournaments were all on the weekend so I had to work on Saturday and Sunday, but then I had five days off to write. The chess generated enough money for me to pay my bills."

11. He has a very specific way of writing, which is why he hasn't finished the winds of winter.

Fans have been waiting for a while for the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and Martin has been honest about why it's taking him so long. "Writer’s block isn’t to blame here, it’s distraction," he said. "In recent years, all of the work I’ve been doing creates problems because it creates distraction. Because the books and the show are so popular I have interviews to do constantly. I have travel plans constantly. It’s like suddenly I get invited to travel to South Africa or Dubai, and who’s passing up a free trip to Dubai? I don’t write when I travel. I don’t write in hotel rooms. I don’t write on airplanes. I really have to be in my own house undisturbed to write. Through most of my life no body did bother me, but now everyone bothers me every day."

Can You Guess the Meaning of These Dothraki Words?

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